Antonio Brown: the rise and fall of his career


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Antonio Brown, a former National Football League (NFL) wide receiver, a seven-time pro bowler, Super Bowl champion and a possible lost generational talent, has once again gotten his name in the news. Brown is one of the most influential NFL wide receivers of all time. A huge amount of controversy has surrounded Brown regarding his on-the-field actions and their consequences.

On Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, during the 3rd quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup against the New York Jets, Brown took off his pads on the sideline, threw a few items of clothing into the stands and walked back to the locker room through the endzone while both teams were still on the field. This move from Brown sparked an insane amount of hate against him all over social media. People were shocked by him leaving the field midway through the game, a move that resulted in him being cut from his own team, hence why Brown is listed as a former NFL wide receiver. While some believe that Brown may just be ‘stupid’ or ‘selfish’ for this move he pulled against the New York Jets, most speculate that this action from Brown is caused by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) from the hits he has endured in his time playing in the NFL.

The controversy surrounding Brown and his recent actions lead some fans to believe that Brown is suffering from CTE. CTE is the degeneration of the brain, caused by repeated head trauma, according to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping those in need. The list of CTE symptoms is lengthy, but the most noticeable symptoms include impulsive behavior, aggression and emotional instability. Brown’s impulsive behavior was on full display in his sudden exit in his matchup on Jan. 2, 2022, between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets. His aggression was clearly shown in June of 2020, when he pleaded no contest on his charges of burglary with battery, as well as burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief. Brown’s emotional instability was shown through his fluctuating feelings on the situation between what occurred against the Jets on Jan. 2, 2022. Shortly after the incident, Brown was seen thanking his quarterback Tom Brady; however, not too long after, he started disrespecting Brady. He went back on his word by saying the exact opposite on social media. These similarities between the behavior Brown has shown and the symptoms of CTE are why many fans speculate that Brown’s disciplinary issues have stemmed from CTE.

During Brown’s prime, he was known for not only being an explosive wide receiver but a consistent receiving threat overall with a very minimal amount of mistakes. On Jan. 9, 2016, the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Cincinnati Bengals during the Wild Card Weekend in the playoffs. With 18 seconds left in the game, Brown, who at that time was playing for the Steelers, leapt up to make the catch, but came up short. On the way down, he endured a ridiculous helmet-to-helmet shot from linebacker Vontaze Burfict. This resulted in a concussion for Brown, and drew a penalty from the refs, putting the Steelers in a position to win the game. Brown did not play the week after due to the concussion, leading the Steelers to lose to the Denver Broncos the following week, ending their season. Many people view this hit as the turning point in the attitude of Brown. After this incident, Brown was cut by teams, arrested, benched, re-signed by teams, and suspended from the NFL around 17 times. It truly is sad to see a player that made many fall in love with football fall from grace as fast as he did.

With all of this controversy and issues surrounding Brown and the high number of times he has been cut by teams and suspended by the NFL, people have begun to wonder whether or not he should be let back in.  As much as I would love to see the seven-time pro bowler back in the NFL, making great catches and beautiful plays, there is a very low chance that he will not be cut or suspended again. This is due to the fact that NFL teams, when signing players, want a reliable player for the amount of years that the teams and the players have agreed to. Many NFL fans agree that he has the talent and skill to continue playing in the NFL, the main deciding factor for teams signing him or not will be whether they believe that Brown has changed his ways for the better, and if he can be relied on in the team. His alleged CTE has continuously worsened due to the constant hits to his head. More likely than not, Brown will do something against the rules of the NFL resulting in suspension again. While Brown has had an amazing legacy and is considered one of the best to ever play during his prime, it is time for Brown to stay out of the NFL for good.

CTE can truly be a career-ending disease and there is no better example than Brown. Throughout his whole career, he may have been considered one of the best talents to ever exist at the wide receiver position. Brown needs to find good people to surround himself with, like former teammates Tom Brady and Juju Smith-Schuster, and help him with his CTE before his opportunities and chances in the NFL vanishes. Every NFL watcher, player and enjoyer wants to see Brown succeed, but at this point, his time in the NFL may be up.